Moments ago, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker struck down Proposition 8, passed by California voters in November 2008, which prohibited same-sex couples from marrying in the sate. Walker found that the Prop 8 undermined both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, arguing that “[e]ach challenge is independently meritorious, as Proposition 8 both unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation: “
Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite- sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
Last night, anticipating Judge Walker’s decision, lawyers for the Proposition 8 defense team asked Walker to “for a stay of his ruling if the outcome is to declare the law unconstitutional.” Walker issued an emergency stay of the judgment and will decide later if an indefinite stay is in order.
The ruling is now expected to be appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and then up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Reaction from Newt Gingrich: “Judge Walker’s ruling overturning Prop 8 is an outrageous disrespect for our Constitution and for the majority of people of the United States who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife. In every state of the union from California to Maine to Georgia, where the people have had a chance to vote they’ve affirmed that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Congress now has the responsibility to act immediately to reaffirm marriage as a union of one man and one woman as our national policy. Today’s notorious decision also underscores the importance of the Senate vote tomorrow on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court because judges who oppose the American people are a growing threat to our society.”
,Reaction from CAP President and CEO John Podesta, who is also co-chair of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which helped launch Perry v. Schwarzenegger: “Judge Walker’s decision reaffirms the Constitution’s command that all Americans must receive ‘equal protection of the laws.’ Prop 8 is incompatible with our Constitution and a long line of precedent rejecting laws that single out a certain class of Americans for disfavored legal status. Today’s decision does nothing more than restore the Constitution’s promise to millions of American couples. Because Constitutional precedent so clearly rejects Prop 8, I have every confidence that this decision will be upheld on appeal.”
,Reaction from Freedom To Marry: “Today’s federal ruling strikes down a cruel and unfair constitutional amendment that should never have become law and affirms that the freedom to marry belongs to every American. As the first court to strike down race restrictions on marriage said in 1948, “the essence of the right to marry is freedom to join in marriage with the person of one’s choice.” There is no gay exception in the Constitution to personal choice and the right to marry, and there is no good reason to continue excluding same-sex couples from marriage.”